TechFuel Pitch Competition Open to Startups Across Texas

By Iris Gonzalez
Yoni Medhin, co-founder of Grain 4 Grain, pitches at Tech Fuel, photo courtesy of Tech Bloc

Early-stage tech startups across Texas can apply to TechFuel, San Antonio’s largest cash prize pitch competition. 

For the fifth time, Bexar County is teaming up with Tech Bloc, a San Antonio technology industry advocacy nonprofit, on the non-dilutive, three-tiered $100,000 cash-prize pitch competition.

The competition is designed to help emerging tech entrepreneurs launch innovative companies and is funded by Bexar County’s Innovation Fund. To apply, eligible companies must have a product or service that is live and on the market, have received less than $1 million in outside funding, produce less than $1.5 million in revenue, and intend to grow their companies primarily in Bexar County.

Early-stage companies with an innovative technology-based business, including biotechnology, finance, and clean energy startups, are eligible to apply. Founders interested in participating can submit their applications online by midnight on Sept. 25.

Tech Bloc will oversee the pitch competition, which culminates on Oct. 21 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Following the open call for applications, the top 25 five applicants will move on to the semifinal judging round. A panel of judges will choose five finalists who will receive a $2,500 cash prize and a spot to compete in the public startup pitch event at the Tobin Center.

The company winning first place will receive a $50,000 cash prize. Second place will garner $20,000, third place will receive $10,000, and $7,500 will be awarded as an ‘honorable mention’ to fourth place. The winning companies must maintain a presence in Bexar county for at least six months after the competition, said Illeana Gonzalez, venture associate at Tech Stars and organizer of the pitch event.

Initially launched in 2016 as a $50,000 competition, Bexar County’s Innovation Fund is again funding TechFuel with double the prize money. Each fiscal year, the County allocates $1 million in economic incentive funds to foster local job recruitment, talent development competitions, business expansion, and technical workforce training for targeted technology-based industries.

Event sponsors include Port San Antonio, Scaleworks, Launch SA, Codeup, Geekdom, and the 80/20 Foundation. The TechFuel competition will be held during San Antonio Startup Week Oct. 16 through Oct. 22, a program-filled week of events and networking opportunities held across San Antonio’s startup ecosystem.

“Opening this to all tech startups across Texas and scheduling this during Startup Week is deliberate,” Gonzalez said. “We want to help founders spend significant time in San Antonio and motivate them to join our community.”

The featured image shows the 2020 winner of the TechFuel pitch competition — image courtesy of TechBloc.

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